Funding Digital Transformation in NSW

Enabling digital transformation

NSW Government is changing how customers experience its services; so how those experiences are funded is also changing

Customers are demanding better services generally from Government and that Digital has a key role to play in delivering those service.

Research tells us that Australians have increased their use of digital channels during the pandemic, many services from Government which we commonly use such as those through the SNSW application or services such as tele Health.

Back in 2019, even before the pandemic, it was clear that if we were going accelerate digital transformation in government and deliver better services for our citizens, we were going to need to change the way we Prioritise, Plan and Fund Investments in Technology in NSW.

To enable this, a dedicated digital fund has been established and we are putting in place reforms to transform digital services.

The Digital Restart Fund has paved the way for customer-focused investment and has given NSW Government the opportunity to solve challenges in smarter and faster ways. The Digital Restart Fund Act 2020 has accelerated the NSW government move away from analogue, paper based and manual services, to digital, web-based, and self-service functions.

The cumulative investment by Digital Restart Fund initiatives exceeds 150 projects across all NSW Government Clusters from the $1.6bn fund and the predecessor $100m seed fund. We are impacting on a diverse range of projects, anything from monitoring wildlife through drone technology - to Digitising Schools across Regional NSW.

We have also made the largest investment in uplifting Cyber in the Nations’ history.

Over 7 million customer digital interactions being delivered to customers from various walks of life (e.g. Parents, teachers, trades people, builders, etc.) and there is more to come.

The Digital Restart Fund’s effectiveness and innovation have generated interest around Australia and some international jurisdictions.

“Reforming digital funding is not without risk, but it’s a challenge that governments must embrace boldly and openly if they are to be the effective, trusted institutions we need. Both the Government Digital Service (GDS) in the UK and the most populous Australian state, New South Wales (NSW), have adopted it, and the US has launched the Technology Modernization Fund with similar goals”

Fixing digital funding in government, BCG

Our approach

Prior to the Fund starting, projects may have had multiyear delivery timeframes, long lead time for approval, minimal visibility across government, higher risk and often missed the opportunity to deliver services faster and create impactful change.

By addressing these barriers to getting new products and services into the hands of NSW customers, we have helped to fast-track new digital products and services.

There has been a great demand from all the NSW government Clusters seeking investments to drive digital transformation. Demand has exceeded available funding based on the current size of the fund.

To address this, we run a whole of government prioritisation process to select the projects that align to the fund objectives and focus on the projects with the most impact for NSW.

“The best part of the Digital Restart Fund is the transparency.” Cluster CIO

When assessing funding requests, some of the things we look for include;

Aligned to fund objectives: The project must help drive digital transformation.

Customer-centricity: Projects must test ideas with customers to ensure products are relevant and make a positive impact.

Agile and iterative ways of working: The project team must be committed to using agile methodologies so solutions can be tested before being scaled.

Continuous Value drops: Projects must prove they are continually delivering value to customers.

Actively seeking reuse opportunities: The project team must have a collaborative mindset to ensure reuse of government assets across clusters and other projects.

Some of the key “reforms” in our approach to funding digital transformation that we have embedded include:

  • Created a Whole of Government digital Strategy, known as Beyond Digital
  • Truly Whole of government dedicated fund for Digital transformation with all clusters participating in the fund
  • Whole of government prioritisation of investments based on alignment to digital transformation objectives
  • Visibility of Whole of government investments for better utilization and reuse of assets.
  • Faster access to funds through quarterly investment cycles as opposed to annual cycles
  • Fostering customer centric agile delivery methodology, demonstrated reduced time to deliver digital solutions/prototypes
  • De risking projects and getting continuous outcomes thorough tranche funding approach
  • Providing “Seed” and “Scale” funding pathways for projects to prove the concept before large scale roll out
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